Christian Pulisic wasn’t the star of the show on Saturday against Bayer Leverkusen but he delivered a strong performance in a 4-0 Borussia Dortmund win.
On a day when fellow teenager Jadon Sancho proved the star and Marco Reus delivered a double, Pulisic nonetheless got things started with an assist and later won a penalty for his side in a strong 72 minute performance.
The opener came in the 13th minute as Pulisic and Mario Gotze won the ball along the sideline near the halfway line. Pulisic drove forward, using his pace to keep ahead of the chasing defenders, then played an aggressive early ball to Sancho, who finished the chance. There was a bit of fortune about it – the defender who could have intercepted his ball to Sancho fell down.
Then late in the first half, Pulisic got into the area and was pulled down for a penalty. Marco Reus stepped up but had his shot saved, so Dortmund ended up going into the half just 1-0 up.
However, Dortmund was not made the rue that missed chance, as the side struck three times in the second half to win 4-0.
Pulisic scored a goal against Stuttgart a few weeks ago, but this was arguably a stronger performance. While that game featured him scoring a cross accidentally, this match saw Pulisic more active in driving the play. Even if you were to dock him for the luck in the assist he also earned a penalty, which should have resulted in a Dortmund goal.
Dortmund and Pulisic have three games remaining and the victory strengthened their Champions League position. Their win leaves them five points up on fifth-place Hoffenheim while Schalke’s draw against Koln leaves Dortmund just two points back of second.
Brooks yanked in return
When John Brooks made the move from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg last summer, he did so as the most expensive United States national team player ever. But injuries have derailed his first campaign with his new club.
Brooks has had two extended absences this season, missing much of the fall with a thigh tear, and then ended up sidelined from December on with a knee problem. But he finally made his way back into the lineup last Friday, getting the start against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Unfortunately for Brooks, it proved a short comeback. He picked up a yellow card in the 13th minute and then was pulled off in the 29th minute, with Wolfsburg down 1-0. They went on to lose 3-0, and remain mired in a relegation fight.
Brooks was not yanked for injury, but effectiveness. He had somewhat limited training in the lead up to the game, but was pressed into action as a result of Wolfsburg’s lingering injury issues.
"We had to act, the danger of him getting sent off was too great," Bruno Labbadia said post-match. And Labbadia defended the decision to start Brooks saying, "In training, he did very well."
Brooks and Wolfsburg face off against Hamburg next week, in a golden opportunity to escape the relegation zone. It will be do or die for Hamburg and Bobby Wood, who got to play most of the second half in a 1-0 victory over Freiburg on Saturday. The struggling forward failed to stand out, however.
Hamid makes Midtjylland league debut
Former D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid signed with Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland in January, but had yet to make his league debut until Sunday.
Hamid got the start between the posts against AaB on Sunday in a debut that resulted in a point, but could have gone better for the American.
The game ended 3-3 with Midtjylland salvaging the draw late thanks to a stoppage-time goal. Three goals allowed is never going to feel great for a keeper, and Hamid definitely could have done better on the AaB third goal.
He misjudged the flight of the ball off a corner kick, leaping but failing to reach it. The resulting goalmouth scramble saw AaB bundle home to temporarily take a 3-2 advantage.
The other goals Hamid did not really have a chance on, as the first was another corner that was not properly dealt with by the defense and the second was a very good cross to the six-yard box that was put home.
Midtjylland’s next contest is in a cup match on Thursday against Brondby. It will be interesting to see if Hamid gets another chance in that contest.
George helps keep Regensburg Bundesliga dream alive
Jann-Christopher George picked up two goals in a substitute appearance last week. Earning a start this week, he went 77 minutes and assisted on his club’s second goal in a 3-1 victory over St. Pauli.
George has fared well enough in his first full season in Germany’s second division. After scoring 10 goals last year in the third division, he has found the net six times this season, while adding two assists.
And there is a possibility George may even get the opportunity to see what he can do at the top level in Germany. Despite being a newly promoted side this season, Jahn Regensburg is just two points back of third-place Holstein Kiel and the promotion playoff with three games left and four back of second-place Nurnberg for an automatic promotion place. While those teams have a game in hand, they play each other on Monday.
Promotion isn’t the likeliest of scenarios for George and his teammates but a strong finish to the season could see them secure improbable back-to-back promotions.
– Omar Gonzalez appears to have reclaimed his spot in Pachuca’s XI as he made his second straight start, going the full 90 in a scoreless draw with Queretaro.
– Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough also got back into his team's lineup after being relegated to the bench in April. Teammate Landon Donovan did not play in a 1-1 draw with Tijuana that saw Rubio Rubin enter as a substitute for Xolos.
– Mix Diskerud did not score this week in the Allsvenskan but another American did as Sundsvall winger Romain Gall delivered his first goal of the season. The former Columbus Crew midfielder has already scored twice in the Swedish Cup.
– Tim Ream had a goal-line clearance for Fulham in a 3-0 win over Millwall. The Cottagers are undefeated in 22 Championship games, but still have a tough road for an automatic promotion spot. They are a point back of Cardiff, with the Welsh club owning a game in hand.
– Weston McKennie went 90 minutes Sunday in a disappointing 2-2 draw with last-place Koln. It was McKennie’s first start for Schalke since March 9.